Confronting the United Daughters of the Confederacy

(image from The New York Time’s article from Oct. 6th, 2017 “The Confederacy’s Living Monuments” referenced below)

The United Daughters of the Confederacy were part of the effort to commemorate the soldiers that had fought in the American Civil War.  Although the monuments sponsored by this group were advertised as memorials honoring service, duty and bravery, there is evidence there were other motivations for their efforts.

Following the Republican-dominated era of Reconstruction, many Southern whites fought back against the modest gains that former slaves had made in land ownership, business, education, and holding political office. A targeted  thrust of anti-black propaganda and violence ushered in a new political landscape dominated by segregationist dogma.

Confederate Memorial at the State Capitol grounds, Raleigh NC. Erected 1895.

The most prolific phase of Civil War monument placement did not occur in the years immediately following the Civil War; instead monuments were erected  c. 1900-1920, over 40 years after the war had ended. This time period coincides with increased suppression of civil rights, economic opportunitites for blacks, as well as continuing threats and acts of terror.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans were two groups heavily involved in fundraising for the Civil War monuments during all time periods, even up to present day.  There are dozens of monuments in North Carolina alone, residing on public land such as courthouses, city parks and squares and college campuses.

For a directory of Confederate monuments in North Carolina  click HERE

Theses groups were also heavily involved in developing a particular “viewpoint” of the War Between the States — a viewpoint that featured the disgraceful misdeeds of Lincoln, the overreach into state’s rights, and the legitimacy of slavery and white supremacy.  Ultimately, the principles underlying the Confederacy, along with the amended version of historical events, became accepted as truth, spread through newspapers, political speeches …  and put into childrens’ schoolbooks.

In this way, the work of the United Daughters of the Confederacy served to reinforce white supremacy and indoctrinate new generations. The groups still has active chapters all over the South, but it is unclear what has or has not changed in their overall mission over the years. The North Carolina chapter has asserted that they do not condone racist or hate activities of any kind, and that their purpose is only to honor the military service of their relatives.

For more on the history of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, read this New York Times article from 10-6-2017:

The Confederacy’s “Living Monuments”

Mock up model of the Confederate Soldier Memorial for the University of North Carolina. The full-size bronze statute was installed on a marble pedestal in 1913.

Groups Request That United Daughters of the Confederacy support removal of UNC’s “Silent Sam”

As HPTA members became involved in the protest over the Confederate Soldier Memorial on the campus of UNC, the role of the Daughters of the Confederacy was examined. The statue known as “The Solidier Boy” or “Silent Sam” has been the subject of protests for decades, with many calling for the statue to be removed from it’s prominent place as an entry point of the campus.  Much of the reasoning is that the statue was specifically erected to glorify the Confederate ideal of white supremacy, and thus is a forboding symbol of racial suppression and hatred.

On October 4, 2017, the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) held their annual convention near Raleigh, NC.  Members of the UNC student “Silent Sam” protest groups and HPTA members presented the UDC President the following letter, which asks the group to consider supporting the removal of the monument:

 

The letter was rejected, and the UDC President issued a statement encouraging

those against the monument read more about the history of the Confederacy...”  

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